I love Chicago’s Fashion Incubator’s efforts in helping fashion designers jump start their careers. Last year, Lagi Nadeau was one of 6 selected for the incubator program, featured fashion designer 2013. Raised in artsy Ann Arbor, Lagilelei Elizabeth Nadeau always knew that she had to realize her passion for creating beautiful things. She graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York and Michigan State University for fashion design. While attending FIT, she interned with the bold designer Nicole Romano and later had stints as an assistant fashion designer at TAHARI and then AMMARA.Lagi has a very gentle and sincere personality, there’s an aura of calmness around her that you immediately feel when you meet her. She is wearing one of her creations in the photos below. Here’s a quick chat with Lagi, get to know her better (and get inspired!)
NR: How long have you been designing? LN: Ever since I can remember designing has been my outlet, a way for me to express myself. After graduating from FIT and MSU for fashion design, I worked in New York for 5 years at Tahari and Ammara. I launched my womenswear collection in February 2012 and am currently working on my fourth season for fall 2014.
NR: I think your collection is fit for a princess, let’s say Duchess Kate of Cambridge. What do you say to that? LN: I’ve heard the collection being described as feminine and luxurious, but I think fit for a princess is my favorite! Thank you for the warm feedback!
NR: What makes your work any different to others?
LN: Most of my fabrics are sourced from Europe and everything is made here in the USA. I focus my attention on fit, quality, and unique detailing. I love my customer and want her to feel confident and thrilled when she puts on Lagi Nadeau.
NR: I find your designs quite classic and conservative which is quite refreshing in a way- is this because Chicago is generally more conservative with fashion or ……? LN: I think my surroundings do play a factor into how I design and I travel quite a bit between Chicago and New York. I am always intrigued when I see a woman who is confident with a strong sense of style, who has an effortless way of dressing yet looks incredibly chic. You can’t miss her, I see this woman often and I keep her in mind when I design.
NR: Who is this woman or even better, which woman do you see wearing your dresses? LN: Kerry Washington, Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone, Mindy Kaling, Olivia Palermo, and Guiliana Rancic
NR: I can definitely see Olivia Palermo in one of your designs. Who inspired you? LN: My grandma is an artist and has always encouraged me to express myself through design by giving me watercolors, charcoal and so on to teach me different methods. She has been one of my biggest supporters and I was really inspired by her for my spring 2014 collection. I wanted to capture her femininity, love for nature, and playful side in this collection. I wrote a blog post here on my inspiration and grandmother.
NR: Tell me a bit about your childhood. LN: I grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan which is a beautiful city. There is a strong art community in Ann Arbor. I always felt encouraged to do what I love and to create my own path. I have a lot of fond memories of Ann Arbor and love visiting, it’s a great city!
NR: How has Chicago helped with your growth? LN: I moved to Chicago last year and it immediately felt like home, there is so much charm to this city. Joining the Chicago Fashion Incubator at Macy’s on State Street has been life changing for me. The program gives six designers work space and mentoring to help us achieve our goals. I have grown very close with my mentors and fellow designers in the program. As a new designer, I’ve found it to be crucial to my business to have a strong support system and guidance. It’s really unbelievable how much influence the program has had on my business and I can’t imagine starting out any other way.
I’ve found Chicago to be very supportive to new designers, people genuinely want to see designers and the fashion community flourish which is beautiful. I recently showed at Fashion Focus, Chicago’s Fashion Week which was organized by the City of Chicago, and to have a platform for exposure at that level was a dream come true. I feel fortunate to have these great opportunities and Chicago offers so much inspiration from the architecture to the friendly faces I see everyday.
NR: How did you manage to win the incubator award?
LN: The Chicago Fashion Incubator accepts applications each year which is a questionnaire, along with portfolio images of your work. After the application, there is an interview process where you hear back soon after. It was really exciting, and they are actually accepting applications now for next year*.
NR: That must be every fashion designers dream, lucky girl! What are you fav spots in chicago?
LN: I love the Art Institute of Chicago- it has been one of my favorite places since I was a child, there is so much inspiration there. In the summer the architectural boat tour is so much fun, and during the holiday season right now the Christkindlmarket is a must. Being in Chicago, you have to have deep dish pizza and my pick would be Pizzeria Ora.
NR: Ah Chicago has so many special spots. But what do you think makes this place so unique? LN: Chicago is beautiful, people are warm and caring, there is so much to see and do, it’s the best! I would recommend shopping at: Chalk, Helen Yi, and the Purely App Store (look for my designs at Purely)
Lagi Nadeau SS 2014
Lagi Nadeau SS 2014
Lagi Nadeau SS 2014
Lagi Nadeau SS 2014
In her own design
NR: What quotes do you live by?
LN: I have two:
“Jump and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall.” -Ray Bradbury
“The only real elegance is in the mind; If you’ve got that, the rest really comes from it” -Diana Vreeland